Categories | Community Contributions | Getting Things Done
A Community Contribution by Arif & Ali Vakil
Practicing GTD makes choosing what to do at any given moment in time considerably easier. The three models that David Allen has framed for identifying priorities (ie Horizons of Focus, Limiting Criteria and Three-Fold Nature of Work) are brilliant. However, even after you’ve earned your GTD Blackbelt, you can still be faced with two or more choices which you can do at the same context, require an equal amount of time to complete and are of equal priority. As soon as that happens the stress levels which you worked so hard to reduce by implementing GTD come shooting right back. Whenever I find myself deluged with options here’s a little checklist that helps me get back in control of my decision making and get moving with confidence on the task that I choose to undertake first.
1. Realize and accept that there’s ALWAYS more to do than there is time to do it.
There’s ALWAYS more to do than that which can get done. The key word in the above statement is ‘always’. Even If I would like to complete all the tasks and projects currently in my to-do lists that are there now (without adding anything new), I would need the rest of my life to finish them off (that is, if I move really fast). And that’s not just me, iIt’s everybody on the planet. So the fact that I cannot complete everything on my list doesn’t really speak badly of me, it’s just the way life is.
2. Brainstorm. Is there a way you can attempt both the items in your to-do list?
It’s when our back is against the wall that we learn to innovate. Facing you is a list of multiple things that you’d like to do but it seems that you can do just one from the list. Look at the tasks again. Maybe you can do more. Brainstorm; draw a mind-map of how you can attempt two or more of the tasks simultaneously. Try out the Natural Planning Model. Picture yourself attempting and having completed all the equal priority tasks. Ask yourself if perhaps there is someone who you didn’t think of earlier to whom you can delegate one of the tasks? Review your calendar. Is there a new slot that you can block out for yourself to finish one of the tasks some other time.
3. If two or more items have equally high priority, accept that time limitations make it possible to do just one thing.
If you still don’t see a way of hitting both targets with one stone, then since all the items you are looking at are of equal priority, accept that time limitations exist and do just one thing. Any one. It doesn’t matter. Since they’re both of equally high priority. The objective is not to complete everything on my list. It’s just to keep moving forward by trying my best to intuitively select one task among all my high priority tasks.
4. What ever you do, don’t do nothing.
Taking the wrong action is still a whole lot better than inaction. After all if you select any task from your list (which by the way you have already filtered by context and know which are important), the worst case scenario would be that you may have selected the second most important task, which is not that bad a choice at all. It’s infinitely better than doing nothing.
5. Finally try your Best and to God leave the rest.
Realize and accept that you are not in charge, nor responsible for the outcome. Your only responsibility is to try your best in every situation. Because that’s all you can do, that’s all you have control over. So just try your best and to God leave the rest.
Would love to hear your thoughts on dealing with conflicting priorities.